Real Estate Developer Who Supports Green Tax Found Guilty in $1.4 Billion Fraud Case

By: Georgia | Published: Jan 21, 2024

Jack Fisher, a 71-year-old real estate developer known for promoting green tax breaks, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in a massive fraud scheme.

His crime involved selling $1.4 billion in fraudulent charitable deductions to wealthy investors, consequently cheating the IRS out of $458 million in taxes. 

Exploiting Environmental Tax Breaks

Fisher’s strategy was deceptive yet simple. According to prosecutors, he lured syndicates of investors with the promise of inflated tax deductions for agreeing not to develop land. 

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This scheme relied on exaggerated property appraisals and backdated documents to mislead the Internal Revenue Service. 


The Lavish Lifestyle Funded by Fraud

The profits from Fisher’s fraudulent activities were substantial, allowing him to live a life of luxury.

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Bloomberg reports he amassed tens of millions of dollars, which he spent on purchasing houses, an airplane, and various real estate properties. This extravagant lifestyle was, however, funded entirely by his involvement in the fraudulent tax scheme.

Severe Punishments Imposed by the Court

In response to these crimes, US District Judge Timothy Batten imposed a 25-year sentence on Fisher and ordered him to pay $458 million in restitution.

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Fisher’s co-defendant, James Sinnott, also received a significant sentence of 23 years and was ordered to pay $444 million in restitution. These sentences reflect the severity of their crimes and the substantial financial loss incurred by the IRS.

Racial Tensions and Jury Controversy

According to Bloomberg, the trial was marked by unusual incidents, including the removal of a juror by Judge Batten. 

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The juror was dismissed after expressing racially charged sentiments, stating she was “standing up for White people.”

Prosecutors’ Harsh Critique of Fisher

Prosecutors labeled Fisher a “rational, cool and calculated criminal,” who became increasingly bold in his criminal activities, according to Bloomberg.

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 “Fisher brazenly and unrepentantly spearheaded atrocious financial crimes that cost American taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars,” they said in a memo to the judge.


The Defense’s Reaction and Plans for Appeal

Bloomberg revealed that following the sentencing, Fisher’s attorney, Claire Rauscher, expressed their dissatisfaction. 

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“We are disappointed with the sentence, which we think is out of line with other tax cases. We look forward to appealing the sentence and a host of other issues,” Rauscher said.


Sinnott’s Defense and Sentencing Debate

James Sinnott’s defense team argued for a more lenient sentence. Bloomberg disclosed that they maintained that the crime involved only one victim, the IRS, and was essentially an aggressive exploitation of a legitimate tax deduction.

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Prosecutors, however, sought a 28-year sentence for Sinnott, highlighting his significant role in escalating the fraud.


The Promise of High Returns to Investors

The U.S Department of Justice details how Fisher and his network, including various attorneys and accountants, guaranteed investors charitable deductions that were at least four times more than their actual investments.

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These deals, known as syndicated conservation easements, were a primary focus of the IRS due to their susceptibility to abuse and fraud.


The Comprehensive Conviction

Fisher, a former accountant turned developer, was convicted of several serious charges.

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These included conspiracy to defraud the US, wire fraud conspiracy, aiding in the filing of false tax returns, and filing false returns. He was also found guilty of money laundering.


Fisher’s Health and Personal Struggles Highlighted

In their bid for a reduced sentence, Fisher’s attorneys highlighted his personal struggles. 

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They described him as an alcoholic with heart problems, who has experienced unexplained collapses while detained since his conviction, Bloomberg revealed.


Legislative Changes Curtailing Abusive Tax Shelters

In the wake of scandals like Fisher’s, the government has taken steps to prevent similar abuses in the future.

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Legislation signed by President Joe Biden in late 2022 limited charitable deductions to 2.5 times the amount invested, effectively dismantling the economic incentives behind such fraudulent tax shelters.